Psychologists studying mental discipline discovered a phenomenon they called decision fatigue – apparently we all encounter it to a greater or lesser degree, and it’s been found to slowly erode our willpower and ability to make decisions. So, essentially, we have a limited capacity to make decisions, and the more decisions we have to make the more our willpower erodes.
We have a finite amount of willpower, or mental energy, for self-control, and so resisting each temptation means that we’re less able to resist the ones that come after. It’s been proved that our mental energy is a bit like a muscle in that it can be fatigued and exhausted, and so our acts of self-restraint will deplete our mental energy stores and willpower.
We make a lot of decisions every day; from the smallest, such as what to have for breakfast through to big stuff such as which investments to make for the future. So the idea that we have a limited amount of available energy for decision making, and the fact that every single decision uses up our willpower is a bit of a worry. In terms of our lifestyles, this can mean that we may eat well all day, and resist the temptations put in our way, only to fall at the final hurdle by succumbing to a ‘tasty morsel’ during the evening, or not doing the exercise we’d planned.
So, how do we combat decision fatigue, and remain strong and resolute in relation to our fitness goals? I’ve listed a few tips below:
- Take control. Studies have found that people with high levels of self-control will structure their lives in a way that conserves willpower. For example, if you know you may crave chocolate, don’t keep it in the house.
- Exercise first thing in the morning. It’s then one less decision to have to make later in the day.
- Get a Personal Trainer – I know I would say that, but we’re a great source of motivation and accountability. All you need to do is to show up for your session, and we’ll make all of the decisions for you. So that’s a few less you have to make on your own J
- Set up a weekly/monthly training plan so that you know in advance what you’re going to be doing and when, so that there’s no time or mental energy wasted on that day.
- Cut yourself some slack, and if you’ve exhausted your decision making ability and succumb to temptation, or don’t do the workout session as planned one day, don’t give up altogether, be mindful of it and make adjustments the following day.